Indian Doctor Describes What It's Like Treating 14 Coronavirus Patients In Isolation

Rachna Khaira
Dr Sushila Kataria

CHANDIGARH — ’I gave your message to her, told her how much you love her. I told her to consider me as your proxy for the time, told her to remember all good things, I told her once she is better, I will visit her in Italy and will have a good time. I sat with her holding her hand for an hour. She smiled and promised to help me in healing her. My whole team is praying for her recovery.’ 

This is one among the numerous WhatsApp messages that Sushila Kataria, an internal medicine specialist at Medanta Hospital, Gurugram, sends every day. The messages are to Elena, the daughter of an Italian woman who, along with 13 others from her country, are being treated for COVID-19 by Kataria and her team.

Elena’s mother is part of a group of 14 Italian tourists who tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month in Rajasthan. They were shifted to Medanta on 5 March. 

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The group of tourists were among India’s first cases of the virus, which has infected more than 200,000 people across the world. India has now reported more than 170 cases, and four people have died so far.

Healthcare workers around the world have been at the forefront of fighting the disease, which has no vaccine yet.  

Every day, 42-year-old Kataria fights a language barrier as well as her patients’ fears and anguish in order to try and save their lives.

Except for one person who was the tour guide, all her patients are above 68 years and in the high-risk category. The doctor’s worst fear at times is that some of these patients may not survive and be united with their families back in Italy.

“Sometimes I feel that I am giving them false hope by saying they will soon be united with their family. I know some of them are losing the battle of life. As a doctor, I cannot let them give up hope and their faith in me,” said Kataria over the phone. 

Her patients, said the doctor, “keep...

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